The UN’s Third Committee has approved a draft resolution on Iran’s human rights situation, expressing concern at the alarmingly high frequency of the death penalty in the country.

The motion was ratified by a recorded vote of 80 in favor to 28 against, with 68 abstentions on Wednesday [Nov. 16]. The committee, which deals with human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters, meets every year in early October and aims to finish its work by the end of November. 

The United Nations General Assembly Third Committee -- also known as the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee or C3 – also approved four other resolutions on Myanmar, Syria, North Korea, Crimea and one about the refugees and displaced persons in Africa. 

In the resolution on Iran, the committee urged the Islamic Republic to cease the use of excessive force against protesters, who have been holding daily rallies across the country since Mahsa Amini’s arbitrary arrest and subsequent death while in ‘morality’ police custody.

According to Canada’s representative, despite “deplorable actions by Iranian authorities against protesters, mass peaceful protests continue into their eighth week,” noting that the killing of Mahsa Amini is just one instance of human rights atrocities in Iran. He added that “violent implementation of the hijab and chastity laws undermine the human rights of women and girls.”

Calling for accountability, he expressed deep concern over the authorities’ use of force, as well as the increasing use of the death penalty. He pointed to the systemic prosecution of minorities, alarming restrictions on the Internet and mobile data, and the generalized use of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances.

The Australian representative also condemned the disproportionate use of force against protesters and called on the Islamic Republic to establish a moratorium on all executions and to cease its long-standing oppression of the LGBTI community and its discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. “Sovereignty is not a shield” for human rights violations, she added.

The UK representative described the death of Mahsa Amini “a shocking reminder of the oppression faced by women in Iran,” condemning the enforcement of the hijab and chastity laws by the so-called morality police. He also voiced concern over the situation of 14,000 arrested protestors and the death sentences. Expressing support for the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur’s work on Iran’s oppression of minority groups and media freedom, he said “the Iranian people have suffered enough.”

The US envoy highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran since last year and recalled listening to experts tell of egregious violations during a recent Security Council meeting. Detailing the torture of activists and protestors as well as recent death sentences, she said that Iran obscures its acts by limiting access to the Internet, intimidation and refusing access to the Special Rapporteur. She described the resolution as a message of support to the Iranian people and welcomed the specific language on the death of Mahsa Amini.

Rejecting the draft, the Islamic Republic’s delegate denounced the co-sponsors -- including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany. She claimed that women and girls in Iran are fully aware of their rights and how to interact with the government, adding that there is no need for Western countries to advocate for them. She made the remarks while around 350 Iranian protesters have been killed in the current wave of protests and about over 14,000 have been detained with the judiciary sentencing several of them to death in sham trials.

The UN Human Rights Council will also adopt a resolution aimed at holding the Islamic Republic accountable on November 24. 


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